Hope: not just a nifty campaign slogan

Bad Kitty!

For the last several months our cat, Gary, has been the worst cat ever. He has been jumping on counters, swatting at us, scratching on the couch, running around like an idiot, yowling at 4 am, and being overly needy and annoying. This may sound like normal cat behavior to you dog folks out there, but in reality Gary is a pretty cool kitty. He is a bit needier than the average cat, but he is extremely well behaved and mellow.  He knows what surfaces are his to jump on and which aren’t; he is quiet when we sleep, and usually only talks when he’s hungry; he never scratches the furniture, only his post. We couldn’t figure out what was going on, it was really quite disturbing to us.  Then, the behavior stopped abruptly, he was good old good Gary again. Why the sudden change? Was he sick? Was it the weather change? And then we figured it out, Gary had been reacting to his people’s stress, our adoption stress. And now we aren’t feeling that any more, and neither is he.  Why, you may ask, has our stress level gone down? We are feeling good about our baby again.

We have made the shift towards anticipating a different and mysterious little person who will soon complete our family. There are so many great things to look forward to. We get to meet this person’s biological mother, that is really cool. We’ll know what she looks like and talks like, we’ll be able to answer all of those tough “where did I come from” questions. We will potentially be at the hospital when this little creature is born! That wasn’t even a remote possibility before. We’ll be bringing home a newborn rather than a 6-9 month old, which means we’ll get to experience all those wonderful changes that happen in those first important months. And most of all, we are feeling confident for the first time that our child, whoever she or he may be, will finally be coming home to us.

Joel and I have been much happier people the last month or so. I put that all down to one word, hope. We have spent a long time without it, and now that it’s back we are ecstatic.  So, much thanks to our soon to be child, for giving your mom and dad hope again.

We are Paper Pregnant!

Ladies and Gentlemen: We are in the pool.

(photo by itsallinfun, cc)

What does “paper pregnant” and “in the pool” mean? It means that Kate and I will now be shown to birthmothers for consideration to adopt their child. This is the closest thing us adopters get to being pregnant, so feel free to yell out a “yippee” or two!

The “pool” in this case is the figurative pool of other adoptive parents. Kate and I have expressed certain preferences (health of birthmother/child, level of openness, etc.) to our agency, as have the birthmothers. Our agency plots these preferences and matches an adoptive couple and a birthmother based on as many similarities as is possible. This means we won’t be shown to every single birthmother, but I was told by our social worker that (paraphrasing) “After seeing your family book, I can say you are very, very attractive to birthmothers.” Go us!

Our gestation period is a bit off. How off? Kate and I could be matched anywhere from 1 hour to 14 months from now. Yeah, that helps with planning 😉 Generally speaking, our agency shows Family Books to birthmothers around month 7 of pregnancy. The hope is that the birthmother has been working with the agency for many months up to this point. The agency has found 7 months to be a good time to give adoptive parents some lead time, but mostly to make sure the birthmother’s plans are solidified to minimize the chance of a changed mind at the last minute. The birthmother may still change her mind at the hospital and decide to keep the baby, there’s nothing anyone can really do about that. “That would suck” is an understatement, but percentage-wise this is in the minority. Once the birthmother signs the release forms, the adoption is iron clad and there is basically nothing that can be done to reverse custody. Kate and I have the State of Oregon to thank for the adoptive parent protection. Thanks Oregon! Of course, the hope is that everything goes smoothly and both parties will be 100% satisfied with their decision

Kate and I will most likely have a month or two notice before the child arrives. However, that is all best case scenario stuff. There is the chance that they’ll call with a match for a baby that is being born in a day or in a week. The agency also have what they humorously call “instant babies”. An instant baby is when the agency gets a call from a Hospital with a mother that has decided on the spot to not keep her baby. When that happens, the agency makes a mad dash to find an adoptive couple. Wild.

For the first time in our adoption process, Kate and I have nothing more to do! We are simply thrilled to be at this point. As Kate says; we’ve been waiting over a year, so that we can officially begin waiting. I guess it’s time for Kate to start knitting booties!

Capturing our essence, in 24 pages or less

We spent this weekend putting together our family book. This is a scrapbook style document which includes a letter to the birthmother and several pictures of us and our lives, this will be the first thing a potential birthmother will see of us when selecting a family for her child. It is a strange thing to try and capture a family’s essence in 21 pages of photos and a letter. Trying to show someone who has never met us that we are the right home for them to place their child has been a challenge. We know we’d be good parents, and would lavish love and affection on a child entering our home. We know that we have a wonderful family who is eagerly awaiting the newest addition and has already purchased tons of clothes and toys.  We know that our friends are excited for us to add another baby to our growing numbers. We know that a child growing up in our house, with our people, would grow to be a happy, healthy adult. How do you extend that knowledge to a perfect stranger in scrapbook format?

We started out making decisions about what the most important things in our lives were.  We settled on; our relationship, us as individuals, our families, and our close friends.  This settled, we began the great search for photographs depicting all of these things in the best light.  Most of our photos are digitized, so this wasn’t too difficult.  We also dug into our family and friends’ stashes.  The search for the best photos took about two weeks.Our biggest challenge was finding photos of Joel.  He is behind the camera 90% of the time.  We managed to get enough after much searching.  Having a photographer in the family means lots to sort through 🙂  I, as token English teacher in the house, was in charge of the birthmother letter and captions.  Joel, as token graphics designer in the house, was in charge of layout.  One might look at these qualifications and say that we had it in the bag.  Not that easy.

We wanted to make sure that everyone was similarly represented, that we had serious and crazy times, that we showed the full gamut of our lives. We spent the majority of two full days on the task.  After several versions and updates, the first draft is complete and we’ve sent it off to our social worker today.  Phew!

She gave us a little advice and her seal of approval, we’ll be ready to print up a few copies of the book and send them to the agency by the end of the week, then we’re in the pool!